Vendor Hightlight – Shade Metals

Spring Bada Bing is less than two weeks away! We will be highlighting two vendors a day until the big day so you have the chance to get to know some of the awesome makers who will be with us at the show.

Richmond Craft Mafia’s Spring Bada Bing – at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

April 29th 10am-5pm

Meet Cesar and Sara from Shade Metals! 

Shade Metals, Seedling Necklace

How did you get started making your products?

We took some lost wax casting classes at the Visual Arts center in 2014. We both enjoyed different aspects of the process, for Cesar it was the technical aspects of the procedure and for Sara it was carving wax.

Do you have any new products debuting this Spring?

Yes. We organize our collections based on the plant or phenomena we are studying. This spring we have a seedlings collection in necklaces and earrings, a jade collections of rings and pendants, and a cryptomeria collection of rings.

Shade Metals, Cryptomeria Rings

Do you have any long term goals for your business?

To be successful enough to travel to an isolated island like Australia, Mozambique, or Iceland to study the native plants.

Of all of your products what is your favorite and why?

Our favorites always seem to be the last new collection we have made, so right now it’s the jade plant rings.

Tell us about your most memorable day as a maker?

Our most memorable day was probably the Waynesboro Art Festival in 2015. It was our first show and we had no idea what we were doing but interacting with people who were excited about our work was thrilling and really inspired us to make more.

Shade Metals, Jade Ring

What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome with your business?

Learning how to work together as a team and not squabble about the little things has been our biggest hurdle. We have different aesthetics, different ways of doing things, different strengths and weaknesses. So it’s an ongoing process to take the best from each of us and learn from the other without letting the negative and petty bits of human nature get in the way.

What is your most popular product? Why do you think it’s so popular?

Our Hemlock Studs are probably the most popular because they are so versatile. These tiny mismatched earrings are a unique abstracted representation of pine needles that can be worn in both formal and informal settings.

Shade Metals, 14k Gold Hemlock Studs

Which of your products is most time consuming to make and why?

Some pieces like the willow bracelet took us months of minor changes and recasting to get right but we can mold them to produce the consecutive copies more easily. Other pieces like the dogwood or seedling necklaces are one of a kind sculptures that can take 30 minutes to an hour to make the wax, with another hour or two of finishing afterwards for each piece.

How much time do you typically spend making each product?

Somewhere between 1 and 5 hours

What drives you to continue making? Who/what is your inspiration

It’s amazing to see our pieces get picked up by eager customers. Making something that people really want to own and will enjoy is lots of fun. Once you see someone get really excited, and want to buy something you made – there is really no turning back.

Tell us about your process.

We often begin by accident. There are so many millions of different tree and plant species that we sometimes start by observing something in nature and wondering what it is. Once we’ve identified it, we figure out how to make a representation of it- either carving by hand, drawing and 3D imaging, or using pieces of the actual plant (once it has fallen or died)

Shade Metals, Works in Prgoress

What other Spring Bada-Bing vendor(s) are you most excited about?

The last two shows we have been placed near Freckled Farm and we enjoy chatting with Crystal and my niece demands some soap from her each time. We like the jewelry of Shira Brooks and the petty of Butternut Press (don’t know if they’re in the next show though) There was a knife maker at the holiday festival who’s name we can’t remember but his stuff was pretty great.

What makes your product different than other similar projects?

Admittedly, there is a lot of botanical jewelry, but we believe ours takes a more scientific approach. We focus on specific species or phenomena because we want the wearer to be able to recognize the piece in nature. For example, instead of selling a generic leaf pendant we would make the leaf an accurate representation of the tree it came from by including details like toothed edges or alternating veins etc. Each piece is sold with information about the plant that inspired it and the website is full of both scientific facts about the species as well as its cultural relevance.

If you weren’t a maker what would you be doing?

We both teach part time still and love it. Cesar teaches math and science, Sara specializes in languages, tutoring ESL and occasionally Chinese.

Do you support any important causes with your business?

We support plants! We have done small projects like tree give aways at shows and helping friends and family with gardens etc. Sara is a volunteer tree steward for Richmond city and helping to keep the city green is a multi-faceted and never-ending project.

Shade Metals, Tree Ring Necklace